Virgin Active Trend Forecast 2014

Our pals at Virgin Active had put together a sexy report on 2014′s bright young things of the fitness class world. The lovely Becs went to meet them and check out what all the fuss is about…

MAXercise, One World, self-monitoring, human power…no, they’re not the notes of a parliamentary lobbyist buy these are what Virgin Active is predicting to be the hottest fitness trends of 2014.

I had a chance to catch up with the Virgin Active team at the very plush Mayfair Virgin Active establishment, trial a few new classes (Fierce, 24 and GEAR3D in particular) and find out how their new innovations aim to set the pace in the year to come. Here are five reasons why we should all take note of Virgin Active’s predicted Fitness Trends in 2014:

1. Short on time? No worries.

While 2013 was all about HIIT and Tabata, Virgin Active are calling 2014 the year of MAXercise. By taking the principles of HIIT, high intensity training over a short period of time to maximise fat burn and incorporating moves that help improve your flexibility and mobility, MAXercise classes aim to be the next big thing.

Take their new 24 class, for example. This 24-minute workout has 24 different exercises. And no, it’s not a memory test. The class works on the principle that you go 20 seconds hard, 10 seconds rest and during this period of downtime the instructors show you what to do next. Ranging from push-ups and squats to the dreaded burpees and what only can be described as dropping flat to the floor then standing back up again with a small jump, the simple and effective exercises are targeted to specific areas of your body. I took part in a 12-minute trial (that’s half the length of time of a normal class) and was dripping in sweat by the end of it. I also couldn’t believe that it took only 12 minutes of exercise to make me feel muscles that had been in hibernation the very next day.

The best bit of all about this class is the length. You can burn up to 500 calories (that’s a hefty sarnie) depending on how much effort you put in. This means that if you time it right, you can be back at your desk in under an hour, having completed an intense workout that continues to burn calories afterwards and targets those lumps and bumps you’d rather not think about.

  1. You can have a go at a shiny new workstations

If you’re a fan of resistance kit and want a short, sharp workout, then Virgin Active’s GEAR3D could be the class for you. I’ve had a go and I can see how the kit can really put your muscles to the test!  But, back to the structure known as the TechnoGym Omnia Frame, which, at first glance, looks like some kind of medieval torture device. Thankfully, it’s a little (only a little) more forgiving in terms of the pain factor (you can feel it the next day). I don’t fall into the gym kit fanbase and prefer to do exercises that use my own body weight. However, this class was fast-paced enough for me to forget that I was pulling on some contraption or another.

It works like this: everyone is assigned with a station (from ropes to hoops and archery-type pulleys) and you do the same exercise for 30 seconds and then switch. Simple, huh? It’s also a great class if you find weight-training tedious (yup, that’s me). Split into two sessions with a play section of cardio in-between, the class lasts 30 minutes and again you can burn up to 500 calories.

  1. Or tap your feet to some fancy new beat

Love it or hate it, we all have to admit that Zumba has taken the country by storm. You can’t pass a village hall without seeing a Zumba sign outside. Well, it’s now time for the Latino-inspired craze to take a step sideways and make way for a new dance class, aptly named Fierce. Based around tribal African dancing, this high-energy class offers a new alternative and, most importantly, looked a whole of fun from where I was standing. Unfortunately, I missed the class but arrived in time to see all that the other invitees were enjoying themselves. We all love a good rave-up, well this new class lets you do it to a different rhythm and promises to burn anything up to 1,000 calories an hour, it’s worth trying it out.

If 2013 was all about “wearables” (think fitness trackers such as Fitbug, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone etc…), next year we’ll be looking to hook up with tech to improve the quality of both our workouts and health. By measuring steps, pace, nutrition and more, we’ll be able to work out how to both lose weight and enhance our performance. This movement towards self-monitoring and looking at your own personal stats allows you to work out as an individual how to make the most out of your workout. Virgin Active has recognized that we have different goals and so have introduced pieces of kit that allow us to drill down and find out the stats that will help enhance our workout.

Take Wattbikes, for example. Yes, they’re used in a spinning class environment but you can use the highly sophisticated technology to explore how your own body moves (biometric stuff). Ever wanted to know how to spin a tennis ball? Next year you may be able to learn without having to change how you play, thanks to Virgin Active’s collaboration with Wilson on something they call Wilson’s Spin Effect Technology (SET). As they say, the proof is in the pudding, but the fact one of the UK’s leading gyms recognizes the importance of the relationship between tech and fitness implies suggests that we may all want to start thinking about both what we’re doing and how we are doing it to improve the outcome.

Human that is…As a runner who actively avoids treadmills like the plague, the idea of a human-powered machine is intriguing. Virgin Active already has a few of these “Woodway Curves”, which are activated entirely by the person using their force to push it around. They are said to be more efficient and they’re also green. WaterRowers, which use water (real water) rather than air to create resistance, are also going to be big next year. It is still early days to say whether these and the Technogym ARTIS will really take off and even if it is a mere nod towards sustainability and eco-friendly fitness, this use of human power rather than fuel is surely a good thing.

Some of these pieces of equipment are already available in selected Virgin Active Health Clubs, please check out the Virgin Active website for more details.  

You can follow Becs over on Twitter, and at her own The Style Dynamo!